It may be used to work out results impossible to natural agencies, or it may be employed simply as a human belief, becoming a motive power and leading to results reached by purely natural means. The first may be fitly called the poetical method and examples of its use may be found in most of the great poets, conspicuously in Tasso, Milton, and Spenser. The second may be justly called the dramatic method. In this Shakespeare stands alone, and it is thus used by him only in the two great dramas of "Hamlet" and "Macbeth.
It may be used to work out results impossible to natural agencies, or it may be employed simply as a human belief, becoming a motive power and leading to results reached by purely natural means.
The first may be fitly called the poetical method and examples of its use may be found in most of the great poets, conspicuously in Tasso, Milton, and Spenser. The second may be justly called the dramatic method. In this Shakespeare Act iv of macbeth dramatic tension alone, and it is thus used by him only in the two great dramas of "Hamlet" and "Macbeth.
If a spiritist medium should tell one that a certain very stable stock would suddenly and greatly fluctuate, and he should act upon that statement, moved neither by knowledge of the market, nor by his own judgment, but solely by superstitious confidence in the spiritistic power and knowledge of the medium, it would afford a fair example of what I have called the dramatic method of using the supernatural.
While Shakespeare has also made use of the supernatural as a subtile and mysterious poetical atmosphere, cast like a spell-working autumn haze about his two greatest dramas, yet, viewing it from the purely dramatic standpoint, as a motive force to human action, he has used it precisely and only as in the example just given.
In dealing with this element after the first method, creative genius is chiefly employed in construction of the supernatural machinery. That once wrought, the master may work out what results he will.
Having once transcended the bounds of natural life and means, he is limited only by his own taste and judgment.
In the use of the second method, the creator works within the realm of the human soul, dealing with desires, thought, will, motive, beliefs and their consequences, working out into action.
In the first case, the poet brings the forces of another world to bear upon this world; in the second, he deals strictly with the forces of this world, including man's beliefs respecting another world, without regard to whether such beliefs are true or false.
Shakespeare, in two groups of two plays each, has exhibited marvelous skill in the use of both methods.
This is so apparent that one is almost tempted to believe that the dramatist intended a contrast which is so patent. In "Hamlet" and "Macbeth," while seeming to tread upon the very boundaries of an unknown and unfathomable world, he has really confined himself rigidly to the phenomena of superstitious beliefs working out to solution purely moral and psychological problems.
Discounting poetical illusions and waving aside the delicious spell of mystery, there is nothing left in "Hamlet" and "Macbeth" but human beliefs translated into human action.
In "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and in "The Tempest," where he ascends to the heights of almost pure poetry, he gives the imagination full scope in the creation of supernatural agencies and a free, but firm-held rein in driving on to grotesque results impossible to natural agencies.
In "Macbeth" the witches hail the returning warrior as Glamis and the thane of Cawdor and king that shall be. Banquo they hail as father to a line of kings.
Of the "two truths" told as "prologue to the swelling act of the imperial theme," Macbeth knows that he is thane of Glamis and the spectator knows, although Macbeth does not, that he is thane of Cawdor. Banquo's wholesome soul, believing with mind as superstitious and ear as credulous as Macbeth's, hears and heeds not.
The darkly brooding soul of Macbeth hears, heeds and acts. Through a complicated train of causation, moral, psychological and external, first, his own black desires and dream of murder, and afterward the witch suggestion and the powerful aid of his wife, acting upon a weak nature, culminating in assassination — Macbeth becomes king.
Again, the witches tell him that he need not fear till Birnam wood shall come to Dunsinane, nor then until he shall be assailed by one not of woman born.
Birnam wood never does come to Dunsinane and he is never assailed by one not of woman born, and yet he perishes miserably. This, briefly and meagrely told, is the sole part of the apparent supernatural in "Macbeth.
Considered from the poetic standpoint, it enchains, charms and appals the spectator. It is true that there is a further prophecy by the witches which deserves consideration.
They hail Banquo father to a line of kings and actually show that royal line to the anxious Macbeth. If this be taken for actual prophecy, it much be remembered that its part in the drama is still solely the effect it has upon the mind of Macbeth, driving him to seek safety in further wrong-doing, and thus impelling him more swiftly and more surely to ruin.
Within the bounds, however, of that little world for which it exists, the drama itself, it is not prophecy, for it is not fulfilled within the limits of the action.
The temptation of Macbeth by the weird sisters is very like the temptation of Eve by the serpent, in Genesis.
It is merely suggested to our first parents that they make the delights of the Garden of Eden complete by eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The witches only suggest to the soldier, flushed with victory and hurrying home in the hey-day of success, a glittering prize, fitted to round off and complete his glory and power.
It is merely, in both cases, a shining bait cast out to free moral agents. There is no supernatural power or constraint in either case. Two classical instances are identical with the use of this element in "Macbeth. In the Messenian dialect the same word means a he-goat and a wild fig tree.
When a wild fig tree, growing upon Neda's banks, had grown down until its branches drank of the river's waters, a soothsayer announced the oracle fulfilled. The Spartans attacked and the disheartened inhabitants fell easy prey, not because of any truth in the oracle, but because of their own superstitious beliefs and fears.
When the people of the Messenian town of Ithome appealed to the oracle, they were told that whichever of the contending powers — Messenia or Sparta — should first lay before the shrine of Jove in Ithome a hundred tripods, would be conqueror in the pending strife.
For lack of means, the Ithomeans were hindered in preparing such tripods as they deemed a suitable offering. The Spartans, being of a practical turn of mind, hastily prepared a hundred small tripods, stole into Ithome by night, and laid them before Jove's altar.Buy Richard II: Read 3 Movies & TV Reviews - timberdesignmag.com In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne, I shoop me into shroudes as I a sheep were, In habite as an heremite unholy of werkes, Wente wide in this world wondres to here.
Britannica Classic: Macbeth Lady Macbeth encourages her husband to stand by his oath to kill Duncan, in Act I, scene 7, of William Shakespeare's Macbeth; an excerpt from a film produced by Encyclopædia Britannica Educational Corporation.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Shakespeare’s later works. In his last period Shakespeare’s . This webpage is for Dr. Wheeler's literature students, and it offers introductory survey information concerning the literature of classical China, classical Rome, classical Greece, the Bible as Literature, medieval literature, Renaissance literature, and genre studies.
BBC presents the classic play by William Shakespeare with a stellar cast featuring John Gielgud and Derek Jacobi. When King Richard exiles Henry Bolingbroke and Thomas Mowbray over a dispute, he sows the seeds of his own downfall.
The human voice is God’s most beautiful instrument, and the blending of voices and musical instruments within the context of a dramatic visual presentation is the zenith of human artistic achievement.